The new offering from writer/director Erin Berry (Slasher, Ice Road Truckers) feels like it could easily have been an X-Files episode: a comparison which is meant in all the best ways. This is a solid, well told, gloriously ambiguous slice of alien conspiracies, abductions, and shifting realities. Clocking in at a rather brisk 85 minutes and change this is a story that’s well-worth sticking around for.
Our lead character is Pippa Bernwood (Paula Brancati), a conspiracy debunker on Youtube. The year is 2008 and Obama is running for president. Into her world comes Richard Anderson (Richard Fitzpatrick), a man claiming that he once worked for the legendary US Government organisation “Majestic-12”, supposedly a covert group formed in the wake of the Roswell incident to investigate and control information about UFO activities. Pippa begins to investigate his claims, and what she finds leads her down a confusing path where nothing is what it seems and where even her own memories are potentially suspect.
The acting and the story-writing are both strong here, with Pippa initially calm, confident and sceptical of all she sees, but as the movie progresses her grasp on her reality starts to slip, and panic and confusion begin to set in. The audience can see the change in the way she carries herself and the way she speaks. Richard Fitzpatrick is also enjoyable to watch as our unreliable source of information and the movie plays around with how much the viewer can rely on what he says being true. Is he a former government spook, a crazy old man or perhaps even a drug induced hallucination?
The story itself is a blend of cold-war paranoia, conspiracy theory and thriller, with some occasional laugh out loud moments thrown in for good measure. (Fishburne: “No, I’m serious! Have you examined your body for any scars or scratches or puncture wounds?” Bernwood: “No, I usually do that on Thursdays.”)
The characters have good chemistry for the most part, through the majority of the screentime is given over to Pippa and Richard and their somewhat adversarial relationship. Particular mention must be given to Paulino Nunes playing the mysterious head of Majestic-12, Raymond Specter. A looming presence throughout the film, his scenes are very reminiscent of the Cigarette-Smoking Man from the previously mentioned X-Files. Giving oblique answers to questions, diverting the subject, he might also put viewers in mind of a certain devious politician from the original House of Cards and his now (in)famous phrase “You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.”
This is a film where to say too much would be to do it a disservice, the mystery is one that should be experienced first-hand and is one that is certainly worthy of experiencing. Should the opportunity to see this movie arise, it’s definitely worth the time.